The ability to live for long periods in the absence of normal gravity (G) requires comprehensive understanding of structural and functional changes that occur in the bodies of humans and other mammals. The Italian Space Agency contracted Thales Alenia Space Italia to build a spaceflight payload (Mice Drawer System (MDS)) for mice research on the International Space Station (ISS), including wild type and transgenic strains. The first MDS experiment was launched with the STS-128 Discovery on 28 August 2009, and returned 91 days later on the STS-129 Atlantis. Three of the six mice survived, exhibiting appropriate behavior in flight and appearing in excellent health at landing, and to date became the mammals with the longest exposure to μG other than humans. After the flight, a replica of the experiment, maintaining the MDS at normal gravity (ground controls), was performed in Genova from November 2009 to February 2010. These studies examined changes that occurred in the flight animals in a wide range of physiological systems, such as muscle, bone, organs and glands, blood, brain (and behavior), and neurosensory, and collectively offer an integrative view of the mammal's physiological response to μG. The joint experiments involved scientists from 6 nations, reflecting international collaboration and cooperation to reach a scientific goal.
Adapted from Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ISS image) and Wikipedia User: Rasbak (mouse image), published under GNU Free Documentation License http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apodemus_sylvaticus_bosmuis.jpg.
Collection Citation: The Mice Drawer System Experiment and the Space Endurance Record-Breaking Mice (2012) PLoS Collections: http://www.ploscollections.org/Mice_Drawer_System
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